Mark Heutlinger next to the Harry T. Burleigh Place street sign

Mark Heutlinger next to the Harry T. Burleigh Place street sign

Shown here is a photograph of my dear friend Mark Heutlinger, who in his professional life, is an Administrator for New York City’s Temple Emanu-El.  Mark is standing in front of the newly named Harry T. Burleigh Place, celebrating the achievement of this renaming after being involved in the effort for some 5 years.  The renaming ceremony occurred this past September 12th, which was the day in 1949 when Harry T. Burleigh passed away at the age of 82.

In 2017, Mark was contacted by members of the Harry T. Burleigh Society to take part in their effort to have Mr. Burleigh recognized by New York City for his extensive contributions.  Mr. Burleigh, among his many musical endeavors, was a member of the Temple Emanu-El choir, noted for his inspiring baritone solos.

Mark was among the committed group of people who, over this five year period, regularly wrote testimony and testified at hearings to compel Manhattan’s Community Board to approve renaming a street to honor Harry T. Burleigh.  Here is a link to the extensive process involved to accomplish this feat.

There are three main points to this story:

  • One is to recognize the depth of contributions to our culture made by Harry T. Burleigh, who was steadfast in his commitment to music and the community, despite the challenges he faced because of the color of his skin.
  • The second is to note that commitment and tenacity on the part of people like Mark Heutlinger to bring about this well-deserved recognition, individually and as part of the collective effort, does make a difference and does generate positive impact for people and their communities.
  • The third is to note that generating respect and dignity for ourselves and others is the essence of contributing to the world envisioned in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sandy Sohcot
Director, The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program

More Resources

“Concert Singer Harry T. Burleigh Performs at City Hall”

Hear Harry T. Burleigh via WNYC!


Library of Congress biography: H. T. Burleigh (1866-1949)

Harry T. Burleigh Society Harry T. Burleigh Society

“The Society continues Burleigh’s radical legacy of disrupting boundaries and challenging social norms to address the issues of the day through art”